South Sudan opposition seeks 6-month extension on peace deal

Government spokesperson said opposition eader Riek Machar should return to South Sudan. (AFP/File)
Updated 21 April 2019

South Sudan opposition seeks 6-month extension on peace deal

  • Opposition leader said the extension is necessary to adequate security arrangements
  • The deal stopped a 5-year civil war during which almost 400,000 people died

JUBA, South Sudan: South Sudan's opposition is calling for a six-month extension to implement next steps in a fragile peace deal as a major deadline approaches next month to form a power-sharing government between the president and his longtime rival.
Opposition deputy chairman Henry Odwar told The Associated Press on Saturday that the extension is needed because security arrangements are not yet adequate.
South Sudan's government rejects the idea of an extension, further raising concerns among observers that the peace agreement signed in September could fall apart. The deal ended five years of civil war that killed nearly 400,000 people and sent millions fleeing.
There could be a "constitutional vacuum" if opposition leader Riek Machar does not return to South Sudan as scheduled to form the transitional government that is meant to culminate in elections, government spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said.
May 12 is the deadline for Machar to return and once again serve as President Salva Kiir's deputy, an arrangement that more than once has ended in gunfire. In a striking gesture meant to urge the rivals to finally make peace, Pope Francis knelt and kissed their feet during a meeting at the Vatican earlier this month.
The opposition has expressed "serious concerns" about the agreement. It would be a "recipe for disaster" if Machar returns without security measures in place, his wife, Angelina Teny, has said.
The committee charged with overseeing the peace deal's initial stages will consider the six-month extension request on Wednesday, according to the opposition. The committee is made up of members of the government and various opposition parties.
This latest peace deal has been marked by delays and continued fighting in parts of the country, with key aspects yet to be implemented. South Sudan's internal boundaries have not yet been drawn. A unified national army has not been formed.
Alan Boswell, senior analyst with the International Crisis Group, warned that the deal would "look very flimsy if Kiir unilaterally forms a new government without Machar."
South Sudanese are already wary of possible violence next month, said a recent report by the Community Empowerment for Progress Organization, a local advocacy group. Without clear messaging from the parties' leaders the risk of citizens "panicking is high," it said.


Biden slams Trump friendship with ‘thug’ Kim

Updated 23 October 2020

Biden slams Trump friendship with ‘thug’ Kim

  • Trump insists that he has avoided war through his summits with Kim Jong Un
  • Trump calls India, China air ‘filthy’ as he hits Biden’s stance on climate change

NASHVILLE, USA: Democratic candidate Joe Biden on Thursday denounced President Donald Trump for befriending North Korea’s “thug” leader, likening his diplomacy to working with Hitler.
In a sharp clash in their final presidential debate, Biden attacked Trump’s insistence that he has avoided war through his summits with Kim Jong Un.
“He’s talked about his good buddy, who’s a thug,” Biden said of the young North Korean leader.
“That’s like saying we had a good relationship with Hitler before he invaded Europe — the rest of Europe. Come on.”
But Biden indicated he was also willing to meet with Kim, saying his condition would be that Pyongyang works to make the Korean peninsula “a nuclear-free zone.”
Trump said that former president Barack Obama had left him “a mess” on North Korea and had warned him of the risk of “nuclear war.”
After the summits, “we have a very good relationship. And there’s no war,” said Trump, who also played down North Korea’s recent unveiling of a massive new long-range missile at a military parade.
“He didn’t like Obama,” Trump said of Kim not meeting the former president. “He didn’t like him. He wouldn’t do it.”
Biden, who was vice president under Obama, hit back that Obama would not meet Kim because he was pushing stronger sanctions.
“President Obama said we’re going to talk about denuclearization. We’re not going to legitimize you.”
Trump first met in June 2018 with Kim in Singapore, the first-ever summit between the countries still technically at war, and later said that the two leaders “fell in love.”
The two leaders have met two more times and North Korea has since held off on nuclear and missile tests but analysts say Pyongyang has kept advancing its weapons programs.

Climate change
On climate change, Trump described the air in India and China as “filthy” as he denounced Biden’s plans to tackle the controversial issue.
“Look at China, how filthy it is. Look at Russia, look at India — it’s filthy. The air is filthy,” Trump said.
Trump charged that Biden’s climate plan was an “economic disaster” for oil states such as Texas and Oklahoma.
Biden said that climate change is “an existential threat to humanity. We have a moral obligation to deal with it.”
“We’re going to pass the point of no return within the next eight to 10 years,” he said.
The planet has already warmed by around one degree Celsius (34 degrees Fahrenheit) from pre-industrial levels, enough to boost the intensity of deadly heat waves, droughts and tropical storms.
Trump has pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accord, which aims to cap global warming “well below” two degrees Celsius.
Trump’s remarks come days before Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper visit New Delhi for talks on building the growing US-India partnership.
At the first presidential debate, Trump also spoke critically of India, questioning its coronavirus data amid criticism of Trump’s handling of the pandemic.